Evidence emerged Monday on Twitter that a story Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) told Elle magazine in October about demanding civil rights from the time she was in a stroller was seemingly lifted from a similar story that Martin Luther King Jr. gave to Playboy in 1965.
“Senator Kamala Harris started her life’s work young,” Elle’s glowing profile began. “She laughs from her gut, the way you would with family, as she remembers being wheeled through an Oakland, California, civil rights march in a stroller with no straps with her parents and her uncle. At some point, she fell from the stroller (few safety regulations existed for children’s equipment back then), and the adults, caught up in the rapture of protest, just kept on marching. By the time they noticed little Kamala was gone and doubled back, she was understandably upset. ‘My mother tells the story about how I’m fussing’ Harris says, ‘and she’s like, ‘Baby, what do you want? What do you need?’ And I just looked at her and I said, ‘Fweedom.'”
When the interview reemerged Monday on Twitter, Maclean’s contributing editor Andray Domise noted how closely Harris’ childhood tale resembled a story King told Playboy more than half a century ago. During an interview with Alex Haley, King answered a question about the burdens of being the leader of the Civil Rights movement. Describing his suffering for the cause, he referenced the inspiration he received from a little girl:
I never will forget a moment in Birmingham when a white policeman accosted a little Negro girl, seven or eight years old, who was walking in a demonstration with her mother. “What do you want?” the policeman asked her gruffly, and the little girl looked him straight in the eye and answered, “Fee-dom.” She couldn’t even pronounce it, but she knew. It was beautiful! Many times when I have been in sorely trying situations, the memory of that little one has come into my mind, and has buoyed me.
So it turns out Kamala Harris lifted her "Fweedom" story from a 1965 Playboy interview with Martin Luther King, by Alex Haley. Much thanks to @EngelsFreddie for spotting the similarityhttps://t.co/zDONW4Ueqs pic.twitter.com/yQuWZHYEMz
— Q. Anthony (ɔpɛ asem) (@andraydomise) January 4, 2021
Harris has attempted before to profit politically from stories about her involvement with the Civil Rights movement, even using it as a weapon against her running mate, Joe Biden, during the Democratic primary. In June 2019, Harris jabbed Biden for his opposition to forced integration of public schools through busing decades ago.
Referencing Biden’s willingness to work with notoriously segregationist former Democratic Sens. James O. Eastland of Mississippi and Herman Talmadge of Georgia, Harris said, “It was not only that, but you also worked with them to oppose busing. There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools and she was bused to school every day.”
“That little girl was me,” Harris added, whose campaign immediately tweeted a ready-to-go childhood photo of her in pigtails, staring intensely into the camera.
There was a little girl in California who was bussed to school. That little girl was me. #DemDebate pic.twitter.com/XKm2xP1MDH
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) June 28, 2019
Before the debate was over, her campaign was selling $30 T-shirts with the image on it.
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